Planning a UW Event

Guideline of how to plan an event at UW–Madison.

Hosted event

All contracts must abide by UW’s maximum allowed rates/costs for events. (See “Minimum and maximums” below.)

Catering services: must ensure adherence to Purchasing Policy, UW-3049 Catering Policy.

Business Services encourages the use of campus facilities for events. It is also recommended that campus departments utilize one of UW-Madison’s Conference Services departments for their planning needs.

List of conference services departments on campus

Event - Contract Signature

All contracts for events taking place off-campus (with non-UW facilities) must be reviewed, signed, and approved by Purchasing Services at UW–Madison. See UW-3053 Signatory Authority (Agreements/Contracts) Policy.

On-campus facilities include: Union South, Memorial Union, Pyle Center, Lowell Center, Discovery Building, the Fluno Center, and Gordon Commons.

Determining purchasing authority

Before Purchasing Services will sign or approve a contract, Purchasing Authority must be determined.

When the total cost of an event taking place off-campus is expected to exceed $5,000, a simplified bid must be performed to select a vendor.

    • Total costs include: hotel rooms, meeting rooms, catering, AV, etc.
    • Exception: Bidding is not required if participants are paying registration fees to attend the event AND the collected fees will cover the entire cost of the event.
    • Exception: Bidding may be waived if a sole source justification is provided. Purchasing Services will determine if the sole source justification is approved.

Minimum and maximums

Hosted events are subject to the same per-person meal payment limits as Business Meals.

Type of Meal Within Wisconsin All other in continental US All other locations – including international
Breakfast $20 $23 $35
Lunch $21 $24 $40
Dinner $35 $43 $60
Refreshment Break $12 $15 $20

Alcohol charges and excess per-person meal amounts may be charged to UW funding if a registration fee sufficient to cover these costs is collected. An accounting of the event registration fees collected and expenses incurred must be completed by the departmental event organizers and made available upon request.

If a sufficient registration fee is not collected, alcohol and excess per-person meal amounts must be charged to Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association (WFAA) funds, if available. Payments made using WFAA funds must be made via the My Corporate Card or reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses.

Refreshment break expenses are allowable for Hosted Events. Refreshment break expenses must be limited to one break each morning and afternoon. The break may consist of nonalcoholic beverages such as coffee, tea or soft drinks, and at the discretion of each institution, a small food item may be included. The total cost must be reasonable and should not exceed the maximums for the locations outlined above.

A reception is a gathering of individuals associated with a UW­ sponsored event that provides the opportunity for interaction in a setting that is not purely social in nature. Reasonable food and beverage costs, reception room cost, service charges and gratuity may be paid. Alcohol costs not covered by a collected registration fee must be charged to WFAA funding. Even though it may not be possible to determine in advance how many will actually attend, a reasonable effort should be made to minimize expenses resulting from overestimated attendance. The hosting department should be prepared to justify the cost of the event to the news media and to political and private interests.

How to pay or be reimbursed

Best-judgment purchases (less than $5,000) charged to Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association (WFAA) funds must be made either via My Corporate Card or reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses. WFAA payments cannot be made on the Purchasing Card. Best-judgment purchases charged to UW funding can be made via Purchasing Card, My Corporate Card or reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses.

Hosted Event payments in excess of $5,000 must be processed on an external requisition.